Matsudaira Tadateru (松平忠輝)

Tadateru Matsudaira was a Japanese feudal lord from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the middle of the Edo period. He was the sixth son of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA.

Birth circumstances

He was born as a sixth son of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in Edo-jo Castle in February 16, 1592. His childhood name was Tatsuchiyo. The origin of his name is apparently that he was born in the dragon (tatsu) year.

Apparently Ieyasu, however, wasn't really pleased with his birth because his real mother's social status was low, and he gave the order: 'abandon him' (this is discussed further below). Masanobu HONDA, who was a close confidant of Ieyasu, felt very sorry for the child and scrambled to find someone to bring him up. As a result, Tastuchiyo came to be farmed out to Hiroteru MINAGAWA, who was a Japanese feudal lord of 35,000 koku (a crop yield of approximately 6.3 million cubic meters) and the lord of Tochigi-jo (Naganuma-jo) Castle in Shimotsuke Province, and brought up there.

It was 1598 that Ieyasu met Tadateru, but even at that time, Ieyasu was apparently not fond of Tadateru's 'ugly' face.

The Nagasawa Matsudaira clan

In January 1599, as his younger brother (born from the same mother) and Ieyasu's seventh son, Matsuchiyo, died early, Tadateru inherited the reigns of the Nagasawa Matsudaira family and was given the Fukaya Domain which was 10,000 koku (crop yield) in Musashi Province. His territory changed to Sakura Domain in Shimousa Province with additional properties in 1602, and at the same time his adulthood was formally recognized and he identified himself as Kazusa no suke (Assistant Governor of Kazusa Province) Tadateru.

In March 1603, his territory changed to Kawanakajima Domain in Shinano Province with additional properties (this was the second territory change in only 40 days since the relocation to Sakura Domain in December the previous year). In 1605, he met with Hideyori TOYOTOMI in Osaka on the order of Ieyasu. In 1606, he got married with Irohahime who was the first daughter of Masamune DATE. In 1609, however, there was family trouble concerning senior vassals such as Hiroteru MINAGAWA; vassals including Hiroteru were toppled by this incident.

In 1610, he was appointed to the role of the lord of Takada Domain in Echigo Province (the lord of Fukushima-jo Castle; discussed further below), and at the same time, he was appointed governor-general of 750,000 koku (crop yield) in total, combined with 120,000 koku (crop yield) in Kawanakajima. Tadateru showed an interest in commerce with other countries and was a man of culture who became acquainted with Japanese tea ceremony, paintings and pharmaceutical sciences as well as martial arts, and also he apparently believed in Christianity and was christened.

When Tadateru possessed Echigo (currently Niigata Prefecture), he was the lord of Fukushima-jo Castle (Echigo Province) which the Hori clan built, but he constructed Takada-jo Castle in 1614 and moved into it. Under the order of the Tokugawa shogunate, Takada-jo Castle was constructed by the assistant mayors of the lords from thirteen families such as Masamune DATE who was the father-in-low of Tadateru.

Kaieki' sanction (sudden dismissal and deprivation of position, privileges and properties) and exile

However, without shortening the personal distance with Ieyasu, Tadateru was appointed rusuiyaku (a person representing the master during his absence) at the Siege of Osaka in 1614. Although the order created dissatisfaction inside Tadateru, he obeyed it eventually. In 1615, he departed for the battle field at the Siege of Osaka (the Summer Siege of Osaka).

As he bungled the Summer Siege of Osaka, however, Tadateru received the 'kaieki' sanction from his oldest brother Hidetada in August 18, 1616 and was exiled to Asama in Ise Province. He was banished to Takayama Domain in Hida Province in 1618 and to Suwa Domain in Shinano Province in 1626.

And Tadateru died at Takashima-jo Castle in Suwa, where he had been incarcerated, in August 24, 1683. He was 92 years old. His son Tokumatsu (whose mother was Take no Tsubone) wasn't allowed to go together with his father when he was pardoned, and although he was taken into custody by Shigetsugu ABE who was the lord of the Iwatsuki Domain, he was treated poorly there and killed himself by setting fire to his dwelling.
(He was 18 years old.)

Some people say that he was on good terms with Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. This is apparent in an anecdote called Nokaze no Fue (The whistle of field-wind). Apparently, this whistle had changed hands from 'Nobunaga ODA to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA,' and Ieyasu passed the symbol of Tenkabito (person becoming the ruler of the country) to Tadateru through Chaa no Tsubone (Tadateru's mother). The whistle is presently preserved in Teisho-in Temple in Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture.


It was in 1984, 300 years after his death, that he was pardoned by the Tokugawa family. Kazuo YAMADA who was a chief priest of Teisho-in Temple, which is Tadateru's ancestral temple, has the idea of Tadateru being pardoned for the anniversary of 300 years after his death, and petitioned Tsunenari TOKUGAWA, who is the 18th head of the Tokugawa family, to have it fulfilled.

On July 3, 1984, Tadateru was pardoned by Tunenari TOKUGAWA, which was reported before the gravestone of Tadateru 3 years later, on October 24, 1987, when it was convenient for temple-goers of Teisho-in Temple (reference: Jodo Shu Press, Jodoshu Bunka-kyoku Shuppan [Jodoshu Culture Department Publication], August 1, 1987, p. 12).

Although some people say that the hit novel, "Sute Doji: MATSUDAIRA Tadateru" (An abandoned child: Tadateru MATSUDAIRA) by Keiichiro Ryu is the reason for his pardon, it was from May 22, 1987 that the novel started to be serialized in places such as "The Shinano Mainichi Shinbun" but it was before then, on July 3, 1984, that the letter of pardon was made public by Tunenari TOKUGAWA.

The reason for being disliked by his father

Tadateru was disliked by his father throughout his entire life, the same as his second brother Hideyasu YUKI. The reason was almost the same as Hideyasu.

When Tadateru was born, Ieyasu looked at the baby and because the baby looked very dark and the wide-opened eyes made him look frightening, Ieyasu hated the baby and said to abandon him' (Hankanpu [Genealogy of the Protectors of the Shogunate]). In fact, Ieyasu abandoned the newborn baby only because Tadateru's face was ugly.

In 1598, when Tadateru was 7 years old, Ieyasu met him and said the following.

You look monstrous and you look like Saburo when he was a child (Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA, the first son of Ieyasu)' (Yashi).

You look frightening and there is no difference from when Saburo was a child' (Hankanpu).

Tadateru apparently had a coarse side to himself.

It is often said that Ieyasu paid a debt back to Tadateru because Tadateru had a successful career and eventually became a governor-general of 750,000 koku (crop yield). At the time Tadateru was the governor-general of 120,000 koku (crop yield) in Kawanakajima, on the other hand, Ieyasu gave 250,000 koku (crop yield) of Fuchu, Kai Province to his brother Yoshinao (7 years old), 25,000 koku (crop yield) of Mito Domain, Hitachi Province to Yorinobu (5 years old) and 10,000 koku (crop yield) of Shimotsuma Domain, Hitachi Province to Yorifusa (4 years old). In addition, it was apparently because there were movements by people such as Masamune and Chaa no Tsubone that Ieyasu gave Tadateru some territories.

When Ieyasu died in May 1616, he called Hidetada, Yoshinao, Yorinobu and Yorifusa to his bedside, but not Tadateru. Although Tadateru betook himself to Sunpu to meet Ieyasu, Ieyasu never gave permission for Tadateru to meet him.

Tadateru departed in a hurry to come to Sunpu and asked the chief vassal how Ieyasu was doing.'
Ieyasu became unexpectedly angry.'
And Ieyasu ordered not to come into the castle.'
It wasn't possible for Tadateru to meet Ieyasu.'
Minor Captain (Tadateru) stayed helplessly at a zen temple in the castle town.'
He was looking for a chance.'
While he was intending to apologize to Ieyasu, Ieyasu passed away……' (Tokugawa jikki [The True Tokugawa Records]).

The reason for the 'kaieki' sanction

On August 18, 1616, after Ieyasu's death, his brother Hidetada imposed upon Tadateru the 'kaieki' sanction.

It was because Tadateru was late even though he was appointed to the role of the supreme commander to invade Osaka from Yamato Province at the Summer Siege of Osaka.

It was also because Tadateru put to the sword two hatamoto (direct retainers of the bakufu, which is a form of Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) under Hidetada because they overtook Tadateru's force in Mt. Mori in Omi Province which was marching toward Osaka (However, under military law at that time, Tadateru's actions were legal as during the war kirisute gomen [cut, apologize, and walk away]) was allowed in the case of overtaking.

Also, Ieyasu ordered Tadateru to go to the palace with him in order to report the victory of the Summer Siege of Osaka. However, Tadateru didn't go with him due to sickness,' but the truth was that he went to Sagano to go boating on the Katsura-gawa River.

These were the official reasons why Hidetada imposed the 'kaieki' sanction. However, there were apparently the following reasons.

There is a theory that Tadateru had a very close relationship with Christianity.

There is a theory that Tadateru's father-in-law was Masamune DATE and Hidetada was afraid of him. Also, there is a theory that Tadateru's caliber was as high as Hidetada and he was too full of spirit.

Personal Profile

Although Tadateru was appointed as Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and Sakonoe gon shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards), he went by the alias of Kazusa no suke (Assistant Governor of Kazusa Province) for his whole life. This was apparently because he respected Nobunaga ODA who was once Kazusa no suke. Because of that, there are some history books which are written about Tadateru as Kazusa no suke even after he became Shosho.

While this person was alive, he behaved really cooperatively, he excelled in shooting arrows while riding a horse, he naturally had three scales on the side of his body and his swimming was extremely skilful.'
Therefore, he searched for snake-dragons in a deep pool, looked for demons and monsters, his swordplay was unequaled and he was a god incarnate' (Ryuei fujo denkei [family record of Tokugawa shoguns, including shoguns' legal wife and concubines] and Gyokuyoki [biography of Kiyoyasu MATSUDAIRA's wife, Keyoin-dono]).